The security forces were chasing a large Maoist contingent that had sneaked into the Ambatikar forest.
The encounter, sources said, broke out when a CPI (Maoist) squad ambushed a police patrol party near Kataiya village. Unconfirmed reports said Maoists also triggered land mines and claymore explosions to hamper the movement of security forces.
Sources said the Maoist squads comprised outsiders. “A few Nepali faces have been spotted among them,” said an official.
Reinforcements were rushed to the encounter site soon after reports about the encounter reached the district headquarters. The first major encounter this year came close on the heels of Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh’s visit to the Naxal-hit areas.
Zonal IG Deepak Verma and CRPF IG MV Rao rushed to Latehar after the attack.